Gazebo Gazette

GULFPORT (GG) — Tuesday, May 7, 2024, Phillip Collins of Gulfport pled guilty to killing James Higgins in November of 2021. After accepting the guilty plea on the charge of First-Degree Murder, Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced  Collins to a Life sentence in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

The investigation into this case began on November 7, 2021, when the daughter of Higgins discovered her father unresponsive at his home on 25th Street in Gulfport. Gulfport Police responded to the scene and Higgins was pronounced dead. After canvassing the neighborhood, interviewing multiples individuals, and conducting a thorough investigation, the  Gulfport Police Department identified Collins as a person of interest.

“The investigation revealed that Collins was the last person seen with Higgins at his home, and that he provided false information to others that Higgins was either away on a vacation and/or asleep inside his home” said Assistant District Attorney Haley Broom, who prosecuted this case, along with Patti Simpson. “Due to the hard work and dedication of the Gulfport Police Department, Collins ultimately confessed that he had stabbed Higgins and discarded the murder weapon and articles of clothing into a nearby storm drain,” said Broom.

Although Collins attempted to justify his actions as self-defense, the evidence collected by Gulfport Police Department did not substantiate his claims. 

After accepting Collins’ guilty plea on the indicted charge of First-Degree Murder, Judge Dodson said, “Imagine how [his daughter] felt when she found her dad like that. You left him for her to find.”  Further Dodson stated, “You needlessly took this man’s life, now you are going to spend yours in jail…because you were drunk and mad.”

Dodson sentenced Collins to Life in prison, which is the only sentence available in Mississippi on the charge of First-Degree Murder.